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China Aid April 2016 Newsletter

Tuesday, May 10, 2016



Dear advocates for religious freedom,

China Aid just concluded hosting the first Asia Pacific Religious Freedom Forum in Taiwan where over 200 leaders from 27 nations gathered to support religious freedom.

In February, China Aid launched an international campaign to free Christian human rights lawyer Zhang Kai from detention. Zhang Kai has been a strong advocate for religious freedom and human rights representing Christian house church leaders, Tibetan Buddhists and Falun Gong practitioners and forced abortion cases throughout China.

Zhang Kai recently began representing Christians being persecuted through a forced cross removal campaign primarily waged against the officially sanctioned TSPM churches in Zhejiang, known as the “Jerusalem of China,” in which over 2,000 crosses have been forcibly demolished. Unfortunately, on August 25, 2015, on the eve of a scheduled meeting with the visiting U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Rabbi David Saperstein, Zhang was subsequently arrested, accused of “spying” and held in a secret “black jail.” Approximately six months later, Zhang was coerced into “confessing his crimes” on state-run television, including denouncing his partnership with China Aid and its legal defense project.

As a result of the campaign China Aid launched at www.freezhangkai.com, and support from advocates of religious freedom such as you, Zhang Kai was released from prison on March 23 and is “out on bail, awaiting trial.”

Zhang Kai’s case is only one of approximately 350 human rights lawyers and legal professionals who have been harassed and detained since July 9, 2015. More than two dozen still remain in prison awaiting trial for serious “national security” charges.

I am writing from Oxford, U.K. where I am attending the annual Religious Liberty Partnership (RLP) meeting. The RLP is a Christian network of organizations dedicated to religious freedom, where our partners remind me that persecution against the church continues to intensify, including the persecution of Christians by ISIS in Iraq and Syria. These stories of persecution seem to be increasing and we can be easily discouraged. Together, though, we can be both on alert and confident with hope in our Christian faith.

Thank you again for your partnership with China Aid.



Expose, Encourage
Prominent human rights lawyer released


Zhang Kai
Prominent human rights lawyer Zhang Kai was placed under criminal detention on Feb. 26 after state-run media televised his “confession” on the six-month anniversary of his confinement to “residential surveillance in a designated location,” otherwise known as a “black jail.”

The end of Zhang’s six-month holding period marked the deadline for authorities to either charge and officially detain or release him. Over the course of his time in a black jail, officials refused to let Zhang meet with his family members or legal representatives.

Zhang, originally taken into police custody on Aug. 25, 2015, became the latest in a series of televised confessions on Feb. 25. His appearance on television marked the first time he had been seen since police apprehended him.

April Newsletter Zhang Kai 2
Zhang Kai gives a confession
on state-run media.
“[Zhang] looked like he was under severe duress while making ISIS or North Korea-style, scripted remarks about his confessed crimes of ‘endangering national security’ and ‘gathering a mob to disturb social order,’” China Aid president Bob Fu said in a statement regarding Zhang’s confession. “… I do believe he is innocent.”

Zhang was released “out on bail, awaiting trial” on March 23 after nearly seven months of police custody. Though many of the details regarding his release and condition are unknown, Zhang was able to send a message thanking those who showed support for him during his time incarcerated and expressed his gratitude for those who helped care for his family.

China Aid reports on cases like Zhang Kai to expose abuses perpetrated by the Chinese government in order to advance religious freedom and rule of law in China. China Aid supports legal defenders such as Zhang Kai, working to protect the rights of Chinese citizens.



Expose, Equip
First annual APRFF held in Taiwan

From Feb. 18–21, China Aid and the Democratic Pacific Union (DPU) co-hosted the first annual Asia Pacific Religious Freedom Forum (APRFF), an invitation-only gathering of advocates committed to promoting religious freedom.

April Newsletter APRFF
APRFF panel with
parliamentarians and government
leaders  discussing religious
freedom and diplomacy.
The forum, held in Taiwan, gathered hundreds of participants from 27 countries, bringing together parliamentarians and other government representatives, leaders of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and religious leaders in order to address the deteriorating state of human rights and religious freedom in the Asia Pacific region.

Religious leaders such as Bishop Efraim Tendero, Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance; NGO leaders such as Freedom House president Mark Lagon; U.S. government officials such as Katrina Lantos Swett of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom; and Parliamentarians and government leaders representing the countries of Italy, Norway, Indonesia, Israel, Lithuania, Pakistan, and the Netherlands participated.

The APRFF established and reinforced networks of advocates, created mechanisms to advance religious freedom and explored how it relates to advocacy efforts, refugees, diplomatic engagement and socio-economic impact. China Aid organizes and participates in advocacy efforts such as the APRFF to help expose abuses of human rights and help equip leaders to fight for change.



Expose
Pastor, wife sentenced to 10+ years in prison

Officials in China’s coastal Zhejiang province sentenced 12 Christians to prison on Feb. 25 after a pastor publicly opposed the province’s ongoing cross demolition campaign.

April Newsletter Cross Demo
Bao and Xing opposed cross
demolitions like this one.
Bao Guohua, pastor of Jinhua Christian Church, was initially detained on July 26, 2015, along with his wife Xing Wenxiang, and their son Bao Chenxing, after they spoke out against forced cross removals. Later, authorities forced the family to dismiss their lawyers. Xing subsequently wrote letters to family and friends on Oct. 20, asking them to hire legal aid.

On Feb. 25, Bao Guohua and Xing were found guilty of four crimes: embezzlement; gathering a crowd to disturb public order; illegal business operations; and concealing accounting documents, accounting books, or financial statements.

Bao Guohua was sentenced to 14 years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of 100,000 Yuan (U.S. $15,300). Xing received a 12-year prison sentence and was fined 90,000 Yuan (U.S. $13,770). Authorities also confiscated assets totaling 600,000 Yuan (U.S. $91,850) from the couple. Their son received a three-year prison sentence.

Nine other members of Jinhua Christian Church staff received sentences of varying lengths.

China Aid reports abuses, such as those experienced by Bao Guohua, Xing and Bao Chenxing, in order to promote religious freedom and rule of law in China. If you would like to find out more about how you can help China Aid support the families of prisoners such as Bao and Xing, click here to see the latest initiatives.


China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Director
Cell: (432) 553-1080 | Office: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
Email: r.ritchie@chinaaid.org
Website: www.chinaaid.org


"Bob Fu has dedicated his life to bringing freedom of religion to the Chinese people. His story is a testimony to the power of faith and an inspiration to people struggling to break free from oppression."
—Mrs. Laura Bush

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